Farea al-Muslimi first wrote about the attack on Wasseb, that killed five alleged militants, the following day in the new media website Al Monitor that centers on Middle East news. The video of al-Muslimi's five and a half minutes of Senate testimony has gone viral on YouTube.
It's Not That We Shouldn't Dismember People, It's That We Do It Properly
Georgetown Law Professor Rosa Brooks, who served as the Pentagon's special coordinator for rule of law and humanitarian policy during Obama's first administration, testified somewhat gingerly at the same hearing that:
"" right now we have the executive branch making a claim that it has the right to kill anyone anywhere on earth at any time for secret reasons based on secret evidence in a secret process undertaken by unidentified officials. That frightens me.
"I don't doubt their good faith, but that's not the rule of law as we know it."
Why a former Obama administration official was talking about her own fear was not explored. But something else al-Muslimi said helped put the lawyer's fears in fuller perspective:
"The drone strikes are the face of America to many Yemenis. I have spoken to many victims of U.S. drone strikes, like a mother in Jaar who had to identify her innocent 18-year-old son's body through a video in a stranger's cellphone, or the father in Shaqra who held his four- and six-year-old children as they died in his arms.
"Recently in Aden, I spoke with one of the tribal leaders present in 2009 at the place where the U.S. cruise missiles targeted the village of al-Majalah in Lawdar, Abyan. More than 40 civilians were killed, including four pregnant women.
"The tribal leader and others tried to rescue the victims, but the bodies were so decimated that it was impossible to differentiate between those of children, women and their animals. Some of these innocent people were buried in the same grave as their animals."
Who Cares What Blows You Up, Once You're Blown Up?
But wait, some might say, cruise missiles are different from missiles from drones, and technically that's correct. It's also morally meaningless. The remote killing of civilians remains an act of terror, and a war crime, and it really doesn't matter if drone missile s have less explosive power and therefore kill innocent people at a slower rate.
These days, in America, drone wars are not part of a moral debate. Discussion of anonymous killing from the air has raised a debate about technicalities, sometimes important technicalities of ordnance, tactics, law, and constitutionality.